Miami’s top draft pick, pass-rush specialist Dion Jordan, didn’t fully participate in the first workout of the Dolphins’ rookie orientation camp Friday and, even so, coach Joe Philbin was smiling.
Any fan can appreciate the reason. It’s good simply to get out of the draft cave and back out into the sunshine, and good to see guys in Dolphin uniforms, even if the vast majority of this assortment of rookies and obscure free agents and tryout guys won’t get to keep them all summer.
Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in last week’s NFL draft, didn’t practice because he’s recovering from February shoulder surgery. He worked on footwork and other fundamentals on the side, along with offensive lineman Dallas Thomas, another draftee on the mend from surgery to repair a torn labrum. It’s May, so it doesn’t matter, but getting these guys into the meeting room does.
“They’ve kind of crossed the river now,” Philbin said. “They’re professional athletes so there’s a ton of information that’s going to be disseminated to them through a variety of different sources over the course of the weekend. Obviously, we want them to absorb as much of it as they possibly can.”
Thomas is 6-feet-5 and 306 pounds. The most important thing he absorbed on the sidelines Friday was about a gallon of sports drink.
“I don’t know what the temperature was but it felt like about 105 degrees today,” said Thomas, who knows hot from growing up in Louisiana. “I’ve got to get used to that again.”
That’s a significant challenge right now, but getting used to working against Miami’s veterans once the full team reports for OTA’s and training camp will be a whole new grade of gruesome.
Among the players running around at the Dolphins’ practice facility in helmets and shorts this weekend, for instance, is Zach Richert, who is listed as a linebacker at 190 pounds and played at Duquesne. He also happens to be Dan Marino’s nephew, but that probably doesn’t matter, right?
Jordan, who has been issued No. 95, is one of two Dions that the Dolphins drafted, joining tight end Dion Sims. Neither came off as the neon type in this first Dolphin practice-field interviews.
“I feel like as long as I work hard and do what I’m supposed to, I’ll be successful,” said Jordan, who returns to Oregon now to finish up school and plans to be back for Dolphin duty on June 11.
He may have crossed the river, but to this point the Miami player drafted higher than anyone since Jake Long (No. 1 overall in 2008) has only gotten his feet wet.
One of Friday’s biggest media scrums gathered around former Gator Caleb Sturgis, not only because he was the first place-kicker drafted, but because he was drafted at all. Dan Carpenter has been the bigfoot around here for a while, even making the Pro Bowl roster in 2009.
“I know Dan’s one of the best kickers in the NFL and nothing’s given to you in this league,” Sturgis said.
Maybe not, but the kid looked impossibly loose on Friday, swinging his kicking leg to extremes that would make a Rockette wince, and then doing the same with his left leg, too.
Dolphin coaches didn’t bark much at this opening workout but that doesn’t mean they were gentle. In the first few minutes of his inaugural practice-field drill as a Dolphin, second-round draft pick Jamar Taylor was made to drop and knock out a quick burst of pushups for dropping a pass.
Fellow cornerback Will Davis, a third-rounder, probably spoke for everybody, though, when describing how much fun all of this sweat and strain and scrutiny turned out to be.
“It was a great feeling to go in there and see your name and see your locker,” said Davis, from Utah State. “It’s one of those things where you sit back and try to get out of the dream state and poke yourself a little bit and recognize it’s reality. I’m so glad I made it.”
Philbin, a rookie himself as head coach last season, surely knows the feeling.